DeWine Extends School Closures To May 1

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, left, and Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, leave the State Room before their daily update on the state's response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic last week. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Managing Editor

With his original order to close schools set to expire Friday, Gov. Mike DeWine announced during his daily press conference on Monday schools will remain closed through May 1.

DeWine’s announcement coincides with President Donald Trump’s announcement he made Sunday continuing restrictive social distancing guidelines through April 30.

“This should not be a surprise to anyone,” DeWine added. “I want to thank the teachers and administrators, you are doing a phenomenal job under very difficult circumstances and I want to thank the parents and the students. This is a problem not by our making but it is a problem that all of you have stepped up to and are doing a great job.”

DeWine said education will still continue but wanted to take the order one chunk at a time because he was not sure where the state was going to be in terms of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). It is possible, DeWine added, students may have to learn remotely to the end of the school year.

“But it is clear that we are not going to be back in the classroom before May 1,” the governor added. “So we wanted to signal to everyone today that you need to plan and you need to continue on the education until May 1.

“The initial decision was made for the safety of students but also frankly made for the safety of every Ohioan. We have seen young people get sick and come down with this and obviously when you put a lot of kids into one classroom, you have many, many families represented so if one brings in the virus, that could go out to every kid in that classroom and goes back to all those families.”
DeWine originally announced schools to be closed March 12 and wanted to wait three weeks until April 3 then re-evaluate.

The governor’s announcement may now affect the Ohio High School Athletic Association and what it will do for the spring sports season -- which is still suspended indefinitely after the group canceled its winter sports state tournaments last week.

DeWine added while the school could be extended into the summer, he did not believe that was what Ohio would do, but more likely the state would try to get by the rest of the school year with remote learning.

“There have been some superintendents that we have talked to who are concerned,” he said. “They are concerned that their particular students are going to be further behind and the reason is not every school has the same ability to do distance learning. … These are things we are going to have to figure out as we move forward.”
Money funneled from the stimulus package Trump signed last week will go toward education in the state and DeWine added the state will have to figure out how to allocate some of those funds to various school districts in the state.

“We are very open to hearing from teachers and superintendents,” DeWine said. “That communication has been good and we encourage that.”

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted added internet providers are creating hotspots for families who do not have access to the internet or limited access at their place of residence, Husted went on to say the state is complying a list for residents so they know where those hotspots are located in their communities.

Health Director Dr. Amy Acton was asked if graduation were to be pushed back how that would affect medical students. She added once those students graduate, there is nothing stopping them from doing medical training at hospitals

CASES
Acton updated the number of confirmed cases in Ohio, which reached 1,933 cases throughout more than 70 of the state’s 88 counties. There are 475 hospitalizations, 163 of those admitted to the ICU and 39 deaths spanning 19 counties as of 2 p.m. Monday.

According to information from the Department of Health’s coronavirus data page, there are two confirmed cases in Auglaize and Mercer counties as well as four cases each in Shelby and Allen counties.

“We have tested 27,000 people in Ohio and that is still just the tip of the iceberg,” Acton added. “We are maximizing our testing.

As of Monday, the state’s peak is expected to happen around April 25 with nearly 10,000 new cases.

“The more data we feed into our model, the more accurate it gets,” Acton said.

Additional information regarding COVID-19 in Ohio, visit Coronavirus.Ohio.gov.

STAY AT HOME ORDER
The governor said the state is looking into the stay-at-home order with it set to expire April 6, adding the concern remains the same -- slowing the spread of the virus.

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